Case Study: Tour de France

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The Tour de France is an annual cycle race held in France and nearby countries and is the most important cycling event in the world. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than 3,600 kilometres (2,200 miles) and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours', the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world.

The race is broken into day–long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are aggregated to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears a yellow jersey. The course changes every year, but the race has always finished in Paris. Since 1975, the climax of the final stage has been along the Champs–ÃëlysÉes. Running from Saturday 2 July to Sunday 24 July 2011, the 98th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3, 471 kilometres (before approval). These stages have the following profiles:Distinctive aspects of the race include:• le Galibier climbed twice, • two rest days, • 23 level two, one or highest level mountain passes or summit finishes, • no bonuses will be awarded during the intermediate sprints and stage finishes. The route of the 2011 Tour has been determined with two objectives in mind: to set the pace from the beginning of the race and maintain suspense right up until the very end. The first week of the 2010 event was thrilling, and this year it will offer the riders a difficult route, that will be spectacular and capable of providing various scenarios, explained Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France. From VendÉe to Indre, we wanted to provide the riders with a variety of challenges, including final slopes which sometimes have very marked relief to finish the stages, a team time–trial for the specialists in this kind of exercise, a final stretch facing the sea, exposed to the wind, in the magnificent setting of Cap FrÉhel, and of course classic flat finishes for pure sprinters, he said. The route has been designed so that all kinds of riders will be able to make their presence felt during these first days where the favourites should already be apparent, especially in the Mûr–de–Bretagne, in an atmosphere and with an enthusiasm that we can already imagine. According to Prudhomme, the race route will gain height in the Massif Central before moving on, very soon after, to the Pyrenees. During this second week, the peloton will discover the Tours new mountain passes, the promising Perthus, in the heart of Cantal, and the outstanding Hourquette dAncizan, on the Luz–Ardiden road: the slightest weakness will be fatal, such as on the slopes of the Aubisque or on the Plateau de Beille. Prudhomme believes that the third week will be crucial: it will honour the giant, the Galibier, which was climbed for the first time one hundred years earlier, in the appropriate way. Its summit will initially be reached after a long Franco–Italian expedition, (which also includes the ascent of the Agnel and the Izoard), making it the highest finish in the Tours history, at an altitude of 2, 645 m. Then it will be crossed for the second time during a very short and exciting stage, punctuated by the 21 mythical bends of lAlpe dHuez, which has never been climbed so late on in the race, two days before the finish in Paris. Nevertheless, the odds for the Yellow Jersey may still be open the next day in Grenoble, in a final time–trial which will hopefully be decisive, as in recent years. Meanwhile, Scotland is bidding to host the opening stage of cycling's Tour de France in 2017. Event Scotland, a national agency that works to promote the country as an event destination, is hoping the Grand Depart could take place in Edinburgh or Glasgow. Amsterdam in the Netherlands hosted the 2010 Grand Depart while London in the UK and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland have also staged the event. A few days ago it also emerged that Florence in Italy will bid to stage the 2014 Grand Depart, which generates millions of euros for the local economy and brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors. The Tour organisers generally take the start of the event outside France every two to three years. To bring the Grand Depart Tour de France to Scotland, which is one of the greatest sporting events every year, in 2017 would be a huge coup, Event Scotland chief operating officer Paul Bush told BBC Scotland radios Good Morning Scotland. Bush, who has met Tour director Christian Prudhomme to discuss the matter, said: It's already been in London, and it was in the South of England and in Ireland in previous years. But there have also been audacious and ambitious plans for the east coast of America, even the Middle East and Japan. Bush added that the time–trial stage would cost about £5m to host, but could generate £100m for the Scottish economy.

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